Calendar watches come in a wide variety. Most of them are based on 31-day cycles and require a regular adjustment (5 times a year) to ensure that the correct date is displayed. An annual calendar automatically adjusts the indicated date, mechanically configured to display the different lengths of the months, and they require to be corrected manually only once a year (in the worst case depending on its mechanism). Typically more accessible than the perpetual calendar (which also takes into account leap years) and infinitely more useful than a standard calendar, the annual calendar offers a lot of bang for the buck.
Surprisingly, it had long been forgotten by watchmakers, until Patek Philippe presented the reference 5035, the first annual calendar wristwatch in 1996. Although still relatively rare, it is back in fashion. Here are 6 superb annual calendar watches presented over the past months.
Patek Philippe Annual Calendar 5396R
Giving credit where credit is due, let’s begin with Patek Philippe. The reference 5396R was launched to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first annual calendar wristwatch by Patek. A great classic in style and function, the reference 5396 is powered by the excellent self-winding calibre 324S QA LU 24H/303, comprising no fewer than 347 parts. Housed in the iconic Calatrava case, it shows in-line through a double aperture the day of the week and the month. The date is positioned at 6 o’clock while a 24-hour indication frames the moon phase.
Quick facts: 38.5 mm pink gold case – water resistant to 30m – automatic movement with hours, minutes, seconds, annual calendar, moon phase and 24h indication. Leather strap with folding buckle – CHF 42,300 – For more information, visit www.patek.com
A Lange & Söhne 1815 Annual Calendar
For its second Annual Calendar, the Saxon Manufacturer has opted for a hand wound movement in keeping with the 1815 collection ethos. Together with a thin calendar module, this enables the watch to be relatively slender at 10.1 mm. The calendar indications are shown on two sub-dials at 3 and 9 o’clock, and the moon-phase display integrated into the subsidiary seconds dial at 6 o’clock. A smart feature, the fast adjusting button at 2 o’clock makes it possible to collectively advance all indications, for instance, if the watch has not been in use for a long period of time. As always, the movement is impeccably finished with a ¾ plate decorated with Glashutte stripes, gold chatons, blued screws, and a hand engraved cock with a screw balance.
Quick facts: 40 mm pink gold case – water resistant to 30m – manual movement calibre L051.3 with hours, minutes, small seconds, annual calendar and moon phase indication. Leather strap with pin buckle – EUR 37,500. Reference: 238.032 (pink gold) – 238.026 (white gold) – For more information, visit www.alange-soehne.com
Blancpain Villeret Annual Calendar
Classic yet modern, the Blancpain Villeret Annual Calendar provides a unique layout for this complication, with the indication of the day of the week, date and month through three windows between 2 and 4 o’clock. A second-time zone, read on the 7 o’clock 24 hours subdial, provides an additional useful function. A smart solution, the 40 mm steel case features Blancpain’s patented under-lug correctors. The automatic movement features a guilloche gold rotor and can store up to 72 hours of power reserve.
Quick facts: 40 mm steel case – water resistant to 30m – automatic movement with hours, minutes, seconds, annual calendar and GMT. Leather strap with folding buckle – CHF 25,500. Reference: 6670-1127-55 – For more information, visit www.blancpain.com
Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Annual Calendar
Simplicity is an enduring philosophy at Ulysse Nardin. Their Marine Chronometer Annual Calendar features a clean layout with the indication of the date and of the month at 6 o’clock. It is powered by the automatic UN-113 calibre enabling the calendar setting both forwards and backwards. The annual calendar additional mechanism inspired by Ludwig Oeschlin is made of 7 components only! With its superb enamelled guilloche dial, it feels like a great package for CHF 12,900.
Quick facts: 43 mm steel case – water resistant to 100m – automatic calibre UN-113 with hours, minutes, small seconds, annual calendar and power reserve indication. Leather strap with folding buckle – CHF 12,900. Reference: 1133-210/E3 – For more information, visit www.ulysse-nardin.com
IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar
The first thing to catch your eye with the Portugieser Annual Calendar is its superb, symmetrical dial layout housed in the iconic IWC round case. It shows the month, date and the day in three separate, semi-circular windows. The small seconds sub-dial is at 9 o’clock and the power reserve at 3 o’clock. More than just a pretty face, it is powered by the modern calibre 52850. This twin-barrel automatic movement features a 7-day power reserve. 44.2 mm in diameter, the watch has strong wrist presence, but if you feel this is not enough, check out their Big Pilot housing the same movement – Definitely worth a look too!
Quick facts: 44.2 mm steel case – water resistant to 30m – automatic calibre 52850 with hours, minutes, small seconds, annual calendar and power reserve indication. Leather strap with folding buckle – CHF 21,000. Reference: IW503502 – For more information, visit www.iwc.com
Rolex Sky-Dweller Steel
This was one of the great news from Baselworld 2017, the most complex Rolex, the Sky-Dweller is now available in steel – meaning a more casual look and more accessible price point. The perfect travel companion, the Sky-Dweller combines a dual time display and an annual calendar. The second time zone is read on a rotating disk thanks to a pointer under the Rolex logo. The date is shown under a cyclops and the month is smartly indicated with a red dot travelling under small windows next to the hour markers. All adjustments are performed via the crown thanks to the smart Rolex “Ring Command Bezel” that allows selecting the function to adjust.
Quick facts: 42 mm steel case – water resistant to 100m – automatic movement calibre 9001 with hours, minutes, seconds, dual time and annual calendar. Steel bracelet with Oyster clasp – EUR 13,150. Reference: 326934 – For more information, visit www.rolex.com